I once heard about a man who was adamantly against me and all I stood for. Though we had never met, I decided to seek him out and ask if he would join me for tea. I was glad when he agreed and soon the two of us were sitting together in a public place talking.
As we drank our tea, he told me with strong convictions about his own beliefs in his gods and what he looked to for salvation. I listened patiently as he shared his heart with me. When he was finished, I simply asked him, “Do you mind if I share with you what I believe?” I think he expected me to argue with him.
He told me to go on and so I shared with him what I believe about Christ—how He came into the world to live among us, and died and rose again to redeem those who trust in Him.
I told him, “This is what I believe, and you believe in something else, but we are still brothers. I’m not angry with you; are you angry with me?” Surprised by the turn our conversation had taken, he concluded that he also was not angry. And thus began our friendship.
Naturally, we as humans are often impatient. Impatience says, “I want you to be like me, or think the way I think. I want you to do this or that.” But love is not like that. Jesus worked with His disciples for three and a half years, despite them being totally messed up people. He loved them as they were until the end.
We humans live and work within the constraints of time and space. But for God, the past, present and future are all present before Him. He plans and allows all things in our lives that we may come to believe in His Son and become partakers of His nature.
Before we met, this dear man I had tea with hated me. But for me, I had to realize our God, who is beyond time and space, is arranging all events both good and bad for our reconciliation with Him. And in this case, who knows, my calling this man and sharing Christ’s love and patience could have been another small nudge for him to come to know God’s love.
The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Christian year, entering into a season of eager expectation. It reminds us of the anticipation the Jewish people held as they waited for the coming Messiah, and it fills us with hope as we look for Him to come again. This hope is available to all people on earth, regardless of caste, creed or religion.
In this season, we remember the amazing fact that Jesus came to earth. The King of creation left His throne to be embraced by filth, manure and sweat. Christ, the God of the universe, came into this world to bring us back to Himself. He did not come to fight or argue or convince anyone intellectually. He came to be love to a broken and hurting world.
When I was growing up by the river as a small boy, there were no major roads; we just had a path that went a kilometer south to go to school. At the bank of the river, there were reeds growing. Many times, during the beginning of the monsoon season, especially when the strong wind came, you would have dozens of these reeds fall over the narrow path. One of our enjoyments while walking on the path was to deliberately find some of the fallen reeds and step on them to hear the cracking sound they made. The reeds became crushed and bruised.
But Jesus doesn’t trample anyone underfoot like this. He never looks at us and says, “What a headache.” The Bible says of Jesus, “He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break” (Matthew 12:19-20).
Jesus did not come to earth to condemn us, but to get into the mess with us and save us.
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